Challenged Hope

Grandmother raising Grandchildren with FASD in Hamilton Ontario Canada

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What is Black and White Thinking and Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

A short while ago, it was mentioned to me, by a professional who has years of experience working with mentally disabled children, that one of my granddaughters thinks in Black and White.

When I first heard the term, I didn’t realize that Black and White Thinking was an actual disorder but, according to various Internet websites, Black and White Thinking (sometimes called Splitting) is when a person sees things only in extremes –  if something isn’t perfect then it must be terrible, if it doesn’t feel brilliant then it must be stupid, if someone isn’t fascinating then they are boring. There are no grey areas.

I also discovered that Narcissistic Personality Disorder often goes hand in hand with Black and White Thinking and might exhibit through the following traits:

  • Believing you are superior to others
  • Craving power, success, and beauty
  • Being overly jealous, and convinced others are jealous of you
  • Coming across as single-minded, or unemotional
  • Expecting to be perfect in everything and setting unrealistic goals
  • Having fragile self-esteem and being easily hurt
  • Trouble forming or keeping relationships
  • Disregarding those you believe are inferior to you
  • Confused when others don’t always agree with your ideas or plans
  • Disregarding or failing to recognise others’ emotions
  • Craving constant admiration
  • Taking advantage of others
  • Exaggerating or lying about your achievements
  • Finding it almost impossible to be wrong
  • Believing you are special above others
  • Becoming angry when you don’t receive the attention you feel you deserve

Narcissistic personality disorder often exhibits the same features as someone who simply has a strong personality but is defined by the person’s need to be constantly on a pedestal far above anyone else or their feelings, whereas strong personalities are devoid of that character trait.

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What is a Psycho-Educational Assessment?

When each one of my mentally disabled grandchildren reached the age of around five, it was recommended they have a Psycho-Educational Assessment. This was something I had never heard of before, but was assured it would help them receive an academic program suited to their needs when they entered school.

Although I was allowed to attend the assessments, for the first three, I was expected to observe my grandchildren’s testing through a two-way mirror, then for the fourth, in the room itself. Given their ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder), each child struggled with the testing, simply because it took over an hour to complete in two separate sessions. But their fidgeting and short attention spans were part of the assessment and taken into consideration when the final report was compiled.

On the website  you can find details on Psycho-Educational Assessments, what areas the child will be tested on, for example: Reading, Math, and Written Expression. And what disabilities the results could present, such as, learning disabilities, ADHD, intellectual disability, developmental delay, Autism, Aspergers, social problems, and organization, planning, and self-monitoring problems. If a child is tested before school entry age, it is suggested he/she be retested before entering Secondary School.

Unfortunately, people in the medical field often assume that parents have a lot more knowledge about health programs than we do, and sometimes hold back from giving adequate information about the child’s needs and why he/she is being tested in the first place, and what the outcome of the testing could possibly be. It really is up to us caregivers to ask as many questions as possible and not be embarrassed by the fact that we don’t automatically have all the answers.

From personal experience, I know my lack of information around mental health isn’t from stupidity, but rather by the fact that when someone suggests my grandchild receive specific help I find myself instantly opting into nervous mode around his/her expected behaviour during the programme, like: “Oh, goodness, will he be able to sit through the testing? Will she yell or act out? What if they can’t get a proper reading – what will happen then? What if he refuses to go to the appointment – will he get another chance?” etc., which doesn’t allow for clear thinking when being informed about the programme itself.

After checking out the website, I am now aware that a Psycho-Educational Assessment is just one kind of Psychological Assessment available. Understanding it now makes it seem obvious, but I thought the PEA report could be used for other reasons, not just academic. And I didn’t know that only a licensed Psychologist or Psychological Associate could perform the test.

When visiting the website, I hope you find the information you are looking for. If you feel your child would benefit from a Psycho-Educational Assessment talk to the resource teacher, or staff, at your child’s school, or ask your doctor for details.